World

The main suspect in the killings of a British journalist and indigenous expert has confessed – and taken officers to the site where their bodies were buried, police have said.

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira went missing on 5 June on a remote stretch of the Itaquai River in Brazil.

Police investigator, officer Eduardo Alexandre Torres, said late on Wednesday that Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41, nicknamed Pelado, told police he used a gun to kill the two men.

Pelado also took police to where the men’s bodies were buried, nearly two miles into the woods, Mr Torres said.

The remains have yet to be formally identified, a process that will involve Interpol.

Mr Torres also said that he expected more arrests to be made in relation to the killings.

Guilherme Torres of the Amazonas state police, said a boat belonging to Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira had not yet been found but police knew the area where it was hidden.

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He said those behind crime “put bags of dirt on the boat so it would sink”.

Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were last seen on their boat near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia.

Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, a fishermen, has been described as the main suspect in his case – and a second suspect, his brother Oseney, has also been detained.

Read more:
Officials link disappearance of British journalist in Brazil to ‘fish mafia’

His family had previously claimed that Amarildo – nicknamed Pelado – had denied wrongdoing and had been tortured by police in attempts to get a confession.

Indigenous people who were with Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira have said that Pelado brandished a rifle at them on the day before their disappearance.

Brazilian officials had been scouring an area in the Itaquai River after tarpaulin from the victims’ boat was seen – with a backpack, laptop and other personal belongings later found submerged underwater.

The area where the two men disappeared has seen violent conflicts between fishermen, poachers and government agents.

Mr Pereira previously led the local bureau of the government’s indigenous agency, known as Funai, and has been involved in several operations against illegal fishing.

There has also been violence as gangs battle for control of waterways to ship cocaine.

The Javari Valley has seven known indigenous groups – some only recently contacted – and at least 11 uncontacted groups, giving it the biggest concentration of isolated tribes in the world.

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